TV Recap: Top Chef New York - Gail's Bridal Shower

I’m not a chick, as is evident by my supremely manly ways. That being said, I do have some experience with bridal showers. I admit that the bulk of my knowledge deals with avoiding the party to go play golf, and maybe eating some leftovers that night while my wife and her sister’s reminisce about the girly good times of only a few hours ago. Clearly the most ballsy member of Top Chef this week was Gail Simmons, who allowed the cheftestants to compete by cooking for her bridal shower.

But first is the Quickfire, and this is a palette challenge. Without a doubt the best Quickfire that Top Chef does each season. This time around they cheftestants compete head to head in a tournament style bracket where each pair tastes an item and challenges the other to name more ingredients than they can. Stefan faces Jamie in the first round, and before the challenge begins we find out that Captain Arrogance has a little crush on our favorite lesbian. Later Stefan will try and get Jamie to kiss him, so I guess the answer to Jamie’s question of whether he understands she’s a lesbian is a no. Or more accurately I think it’s, he doesn’t care.

After tasting a Shrimp and Lobster Bouillabaisse, Thai Green Curry and Mexican Mole Sauce Stefan and Hosea face each other in the finals. Stefan isn’t just able to use his palette to name the ingredients; he’s also skilled at playing games. Unfortunately he calls for tomato paste in the mole sauce, and Hosea wins the Quickfire along with immunity.

The cheftestants then go to the knife block to find out what their teams will be for the Elimination Challenge. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Oh god, I just feel so bad for the blue team. There is not blue food, as Tom points out to them. And what the hell can you do with such a challenge? The Blue team comes up with what I consider a decent idea. Melissa, Leah, and Fabio decide to focus on deep water fish. So the go with a Chilean sea bass with a blue corn crust. It sounds so pedestrian, but I honestly think they put a lot of thought and care into trying to adhere to their task.

Team Old consists of Jeff, Hosea, and Stefan. As usual Stefan is trying to tell the others what to do and how superior his knowledge is. They decide on heirloom tomato as the basis of the dish, and Jeff opts to do a savory sorbet. Stefan informs him that it won’t work, but Jeff stands his ground and says if the sorbet fails he’ll be the one going home. Turns out that the ladies at Gail’s bridal shower, including the lady of the night, think the sorbet is the highlight of the dish. Take that, Stefan! Perhaps you and Fabio should hold hands and stroll through the park to get inspirations. It’s clear that Stefan getting no play from Jamie is messing up his judgment.

Team New is just a mess from start to finish. Daniel, Carla, and Eugene eventually come up with sushi as a theme. This was preceded by Daniel claiming that he thinks of pickled when he thinks of new. I’m not sure that Daniel knows what pickling is. Between Danny’s odd choice to throw mushrooms under Carla’s salad, Carla’s hooting around Whole Foods, and Eugene overcooking everything I’m surprised the judges didn’t send them all packing this week. It was one of the most conceptually abhorrent dishes on the show, and considering how important the occasion I’m shocked that Gail wasn’t personally offended.

Then there’s the borrowed team with Ariane, Radhika, and Jamie. Jamie has been a top contender since the show began, but never wins challenges. The other cheftestants start giving her the “always a bridesmaid” line. It’s clear that Jamie wants this win, even making that statement at the Judges Table. Conceptually I wasn’t enamored with the “borrowing” from Radhika’s Indian culture. That said, the food sounded incredibly good. This might be the first dish of the season I make at home. I’m a sucker for lamb, and the girls at the party thought it was perfectly cooked. Jamie and Radhika were getting impatient with Ariane because the lamb, her only real job, was taking a bit too long.

In the end the lamb was so perfectly cooked that Ariane took home the top prize for the second week in a row. Remember that mess of a plate that was the “New” dish? Yeah, they were in the bottom. Danny kept saying that he thought the dish was great, which Tom was dumbstruck by. I think that while sticking to your guns is a good thing perhaps Danny shot himself in the back by making such ascertations. The judges thought so too and sent him packing.

Top Chef recaps presented in partnership with Munch Monster.

Steve West

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.